|Modern day scavenger hunters|
By DIANE WETZEL
Published: Sunday, February 22, 2009 4:15 AM CST
The North Platte Telegraph
There is no known cure for the geocaching travel bug. All that can be done is to treat the symptoms. Symptoms include coveting your friend's new top-of-the line Global Positioning Systems and doing the Drunken Bee Dance.
Around 40 geocachers from across the state came to North Platte on Saturday, armed with their global positioning systems and crock-pots of their favorite chili for the annual West Central Nebraska Geocachers annual chili feed.
Geocaching is the 21st Century's equivalent of a scavenger hunt, where cachers use their GPS units to find hidden treasure.
Lisa Brauer became involved in geocaching through her daughter.
"It's a mixture of technology and creativity," Brauer said. "It's something different and a lot of fun."
Geocaching, which began when Dave Ulmer placed the first cache near Portland, Ore. on May 3, 2000, is global in scope. There are more than 800,000 active geocaches around the world, and 148 of those are in the North Platte area code.
"We've sent travel bugs and cache items to Antarctica and South Africa," said Cathy Weaver, founder of WCNG.
Weaver, University of Nebraska's Lincoln/McPherson County Extension Assistant, teaches classes in GPS and is an avid geocacher.
"As I got more and more into it, I started groups here and it took off like crazy," Weaver said. "There are a lot of us and we love it."
At Saturday's event, seven geocachers were presented with gold ammo boxes for logging 1,000 geocache finds. Bob Wilkinson was one of the recipients. Wilkinson and his wife Lynda have been geocaching together for five years.
"I had knee surgery in 2001 and couldn't work for a while," Wilkinson said. "A friend took me out geocaching with him one day and I thought it was a lot of fun. Now every place we go, we go geocaching."
Lyn Peters was presented with a special "geocoin" at Saturday's gathering for being the newest geocacher in the group. Peters went on her first geocaching hunt one week ago.
"I'm giving the coin to my son-in-law to take to Saudi Arabia with him," Peters said. "He will put it in a cache there and I can watch it travel around the world."
Most geocoins or travel bugs are marked with a serial number so they can be tracked.
A series of satellites orbiting the earth broadcast their position and GPS receivers triangulate those positions. Entering the coordinates of a cache into the GPS, cachers know how far away the cache is and what direction they need to go to find it.
Coordinates for caches are listed on geocaching Internet sites like www.geocaching.com.
Oh, and the Drunken Bee Dance? That's geocaching speak for the movements a geocacher makes while trying to follow the arrow on their GPS while searching for ground zero. Ground zero, often referred to as "GZ" is the point when the GPS says the geocacher has arrived at the cache.